The minister, reflecting on the decision to begin removing the remaining coronavirus restrictions announced yesterday, also praised the “heroic efforts” of health workers to keep the NHS standing.
Mr Swann welcomed the easing of restrictions and said “cautious optimism” is the best approach to dealing with the current phase of the pandemic.
“Thanks to a massive effort across Northern Ireland, the worst fears about the omicron variant have not been realised,” he said in a statement issued after yesterday’s Executive meeting.
“I want to pay tribute to everyone who has followed public health advice and helped us get to this point.
“The progress we have made is due in no small part to the rapid acceleration of the booster programme before Christmas.
“This roll-out was achieved by a health system and staff facing unprecedented pressures, supported by many volunteers.”
He warned, however, that “the pressures on the health service remain severe”.
He continued: “I would again appeal to everyone to do all they can to help it get through the remainder of this winter.”
Mr Swann added: “As I said to staff directly this week, the fact our health service is still standing at all is down to their heroic efforts. They will continue to experience those sustained pressures for some time yet.
“Please keep supporting them by avoiding any actions that would further destabilise the health system. Keep wearing a face covering, working from home if possible and taking all the other steps that help prevent the virus spreading. This is certainly not the time to throw caution to the wind.
“That would increase case numbers again, intensify pressures on the health service and set us back significantly.”